“Do No Harm” Review

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Original Airdate: January 23, 2017

Written & Storyboarded by: Emily Partridge & Laura Knetzger

Two Swords was a great introduction to grass Finn’s character, or Fern as he’s finally christened in this episode, though it left me wanting even more from his character. Do No Harm quickly delivers, and cleverly chooses to separate both Finn and Fern in order to expand on their characters individually. What makes this episode so great, however, is the strong parallels that are ingeniously tied together between the two boys.

Aside from All the Little People, this is one of my favorite episodes that Tim Kiefer has ever scored. The ambient harp used throughout this one’s duration gives it both a hint of whimsy and a slight unnerving feel, which really hits home during Fern’s mini tantrums. Part of why I enjoy Do No Harm so much is 1. because of how nice it looks. 2. because of how nice it sounds. The slow transition from Finn to Fern as the sunset rises in Ooo and Kiefer’s score plays gently in the background is already one of my favorite scenes and it’s in the first five seconds! With an added killer story, this one really has a lot going for it.

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It’s nice how this episode continues to paint a picture of how much Finn and Jake differ when it comes to strangers/people who they aren’t necessarily close with. While Finn is generally more kind and accepting (as he grew to be with Ice King and how he was with “Moe” in The More You Moe), Jake is a bit more judgmental and awkward. Finn is more times than most the awkward one of the duo, though Jake experiences such social crutches when he fails to fully understand people. Jake is inclined to better click with those who fit his type and lifestyle, so he tends to struggle with those who need special accommodations because he isn’t really able to put himself in their feet. Finn advises Jake that Fern is just another version of himself, but even so, Jake previously had trouble empathizing and understanding Finn’s own emotional trauma a year earlier. From its inception, it’s certainly a recipe for discomfort!

Despite discovering some aspects of his true identity in the previous episode, Fern is still somewhat under the impression that he’s Finn. I’m not sure if its denial, or if another part of his brain is operating during these periods, but I’m glad they kept this aspect going to really hammer in his inability to conform. Even when faced with his favorite meal of meatloaf (I love how this is a recurring trait of Finn’s character), he’s unable to consume it. This could easily be seen as a moment that simply seeks to explain how the grass bod works, but it’s also a key indicator of Fern continually losing more and more aspects of his former self that he once found pleasurable. Again, it really paints a depressing picture. How is Fern supposed to be happy when he can’t even enjoy his favorite meal properly?

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Though it’s unnecessary for him to have to explain himself, Finn still goes out of his way to apologize to an unconscious Susan for what happened with his grass sword. It’s a touching moment, but ultimately, I think our little guy is too hard on himself. He mentions not being strong enough to stop himself from hurting her, but it was a situation that was out of his control. The main purpose of his apology, however, is to draw on similarities between he and Fern. Fern is constantly mentioning how he can’t do anything right, even though most of his shortcomings are circumstantial at best. In a similar fashion, Finn blames himself for his own shortcomings that he really doesn’t have any control over. This brief emotional interlude is cut short when Doctor Princess enters Susan’s room and immediately appoints Finn as a physician. In what has to be one of the funniest Adventure Time moments in the past few seasons, Doctor Princess reveals to Finn in confidentiality that she isn’t actually a doctor, and it just happens to be her surname. The Doctor Princess is neither a doctor nor a princess. Her character is essentially one big, mysterious dead-end. Regardless, Finn chooses to take on the position and learns some new aspects about himself in the process.

Meanwhile, over on Fern and Jake’s side of things, the two boys get wrapped up in finding something for Fern to get involved with. Fern is unable to play flute, another one of Finn’s favorite hobbies as of recent, as he begins to go through yet another breakdown. Again, it might be seen as a cool aspect of Fern’s character that he doesn’t even need to breathe, but when its something as simple, given, and humanistic as that, it really sets out to hammer in how abnormal Fern’s entire existence is. Jake does manage to pull through in a pretty heartwarming way, as he reminds Fern of what his (and Finn’s) true favorite activity to embark on is: adventuring and slaying evil. They head to a grassy maze, in what feels like a fun return to AT‘s video game-esque dungeon scenarios. Much like Blade of GrassDo No Harm is heavily reliant on the color green, but in the best, least nauseating type of way. As we soon find, this is just one of many similarities that this episode shares with Blade of Grass. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. As Fern battles off grass demons, he begins to feel good about doing good in general.

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Finn, similarly, feels great being able to help others out. Whether it be a splintered Mr. Fox or a back-broken Ice King (whose toes also taste like jam, for whatever reason), Finn simply seeks pleasure from being able to treat others, of which later ties into another aspect of his past, and also kind of channels in to Finn’s maturity by this point in the series. While Finn loves adventuring and beating up bad guys, his main goal and desire in life at this point in time is to simply help others and make it so that their lives thrive. It’s a really sweet sentiment from our big, baby boy.

While Fern continues to sweep through lower-tier enemies, he finally ends up on the other side of the maze, of where the boys convene with the Grassy Wizard. I totally didn’t expect the Grassy Wizard to ever appear again, but damn, I’m glad that he did. He plays a much bigger part in the series than the staff likely thought when first introducing the grass sword, and it makes sense to revisit his character as a potential source for answers and closure. Those two elements are exactly what Fern is looking for, as he begins to question Grassy Wizard on his current state and what his birthright truly is. It is interesting how, here, Fern refers to Finn as a separate person from himself, contrary to how he was acting earlier in the episode. By this point in time, to the remainder of the series, Fern has pretty much realized that, no matter how much he feels as though he is, he simply isn’t Finn and has to move on from that idea. Though, despite not being the same person as Finn, their similarities are practically uncanny, and that goes beyond the two sharing the same anatomy and memories. Grassy Wizard plays the part of Fern’s shitty, neglectful father, as he basically admits that he only created Fern as somewhat of a joke and because he thought it would be “cool.” Grassy Wizard reeks of Martinisms, failing to understand even the slightest bits of empathy, but gets his comeuppance as Fern wallops him in a punch that’s nearly identical to the way Finn punched “Martin” in The Tower. Fern has now experienced yet another moment that places him in the same place that Finn was once at, though, while Finn learned to accept Martin and move on from his hatred, Fern nearly beats Grassy Wizard to a pulp, thinking that’s what he’s supposed to do. Jake quickly informs Fern that it isn’t exactly natural or healthy to go about defeating evil this way, as Fern finally realizes that he simply isn’t Finn. No matter how good it feels to do things that Finn would want to do, he isn’t able to take on those tasks with the exact same flair, further alienating him from what he believes to be right and true.

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Finn begins to experience this same form of dissonance as he realizes that his efforts to help others essentially failed. Finn and Fern are essentially on the exact same wavelength: they want to do something that they know is good and helps others, though they aren’t exactly sure that they are cut out for the job. These two stories come to a culmination when the two reconvene at the hospital, and Fern realizes that, despite doing things “as Finn would,” he just isn’t Finn, and he has to find his own path in life, via a beautiful departure on Starchy’s new motorcycle. One thing I also love about this ending is it recycles the same music from the ending of Blade of Grass, when Finn learns to accept the grass sword as a part of him. Here, this score is used as Fern accepts himself for something that he is realistically not and chooses to take on a new journey to truly figure out who he is in the process.

Also capping this episode off is the revelation that Susan is alive and well, proving that Finn’s medical advice was indeed correct, and further leading us into the Islands miniseries.

I really love Do No Harm. It’s a terrific character study of two boys faced with hopes and desires, but ultimately coming face-to-face with their own shortcomings and insecurities by the end of it. Fern worries that he isn’t anything like Finn, though if the events of this episode prove anything, the two are more alike than he could possibly know. My only issue with this one is that I feel as though Jake’s concern wasn’t entirely believable within the grass maze. We’re supposed to believe that Fern is going too far in his efforts to defeat tertiary bad guys, but I dunno, haven’t Finn and Jake involved themselves in similar carnage in episodes like Dad’s DungeonDungeon Train, or even Memory of a Memory? Finn evens mentions in Puhoy that he “kills stuff lots of times,” so I feel as though this aspect of the episode didn’t necessarily hit home in painting Fern in a poor light. But overall, it’s another really strong episode to flesh out Fern’s character, and a sweet episode for Finn in the wake of the eight part miniseries based around himself and his past.

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Favorite line: “I don’t even have a medical degree. I just came in here one day for an X-ray, and my first name is Doctor, so, well, one thing led to another…”

 

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